We’re hearing from all corners that the latest lockdown has been the most gruelling yet. Working from home is affecting our productivity, and we’re trying to balance managing client expectations with staff wellbeing. We spoke to Wellington Water Chief Executive Colin Crampton about what clients expect from consultants during lockdown and what it takes to be a good client.
''We've been lucky at Wellington Water because we've had things to do, being an essential service provider. We've turned our funnel on its head and given all of our front-line staff the support. They are the ones out there taking all the risk. Unlike other organisations, we're not staring down the barrel of not being able to do anything until the alert levels drop,'' says Colin.
Colin's philosophy is ''people first''.
''That's the way we deal with all of our suppliers. We only ask people to do things that we would do ourselves. When the lockdown first started I went and visited all the front-line people myself. There was a lot of interesting discussion around whether I was allowed to do that or not - but the way I see it, I'm as much a part of the essential service or the people on the front line fixing the service as anybody else. It's important that our leaders get out there and see the troops.”
Colin knows a good programme of work requires buy-in from everyone and that requires good communication.
''We try to keep everyone up to date with what's happening. There are no secrets at Wellington Water - we tell you everything you want to know if that means you understand the environment better and you can do your job better, then that’s OK.''
Another important aspect of being a good client and partner is having a strong value set.
''Whānau means to us that everything that gets done gets done as a family. You take into account the external environment, and you convert all of that to the customer. We try to present ourselves as a value chain between the issues in the environment and services to the customer as a workflow - we all have a role to play in that. We don't have it as a hierarchal model where the client knows best; we make it so that we're all playing apart.
''This way, it's much easier to come to agreements and have conversations together when things can get tricky or critical. It's a mature chat around the table about what we're going to do about it.''
“We are all in it together - we don't distinguish between the client, the contractor or the supplier in our value chain.''